DLNR slashes fine against surf instructor accused of illegal commercial activities in Waikiki

The state land board says Chris Sanger's company was conducting illegal commercial activities at Duke Kahanamoku Beach
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 7:27 PM HST|Updated: May. 30, 2023 at 10:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Land Board voted to reduce a fine against a Waikiki surf instructor accused of conducting illegal commercial activities on Duke Kahanamoku Beach.

By a 5-to-1 vote on Friday, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a settlement with Chris Sanger and his company — Duke’s Lagoon LLC — reducing his fine from $65,000 to $19,000.

DLNR investigators alleged that Sanger and his workers placed preset chairs on the beach, illegally claiming beach space meant for the public.

“There’s a proliferation of commercial activities on our ocean waters,” Land Board Chair Dawn Chang said at Friday’s meeting.

But Sanger’s attorney argued that the initial fine was excessive.

“My client’s position is that was extremely unfair. There’s not a lot of enforcement regarding presetting or putting chairs down to reserve space on the beach. And so he felt that he was unfairly targeted,” said attorney Megan Kau.

“It was during the pandemic ... It was at a time when there was nobody on the beach.”

In voting to approve the fine, the DLNR’s chair warned Sanger not to violate the law again.

“If you are found in violation, it may be the basis to terminate all other commercial use permits,” said Chang.

Sanger’s company has a state permit to provide surfing lessons in Waikiki.